Starbucks has found itself in a legal squabble with a South Dakota Internet Service Provider over the use of three letter acronym SDN, which the coffee retailer users to refer to its Starbucks Digital Network. In a preemptive lawsuit filed earlier this month, Starbucks sued Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Internet service provider South Dakota Network LLC which owns the trademark on “SDN.”
Starbucks launched its Starbucks Digital Network last October, providing free access to the Internet from Starbucks’ stores from the Web site. Two days later, an attorney for South Dakota Network contacted Starbucks about the use of the acronym SDN. Shortly thereafter South Dakota Network sent a cease and desist letter to the coffee giant asking that it stop using the acronym before February 1.
Compromises were discussed between the two companies, but those discussions fizzled.
“Defendant’s accusation of willful infringement casts a cloud over Starbucks’ ongoing use and development of the Starbucks Digital Network, threatens to cause irreparable harm to Starbucks, and threatens Starbucks’ substantial investment in the Starbucks Digital Network,” Starbucks wrote in its law suit filed in U.S. District Court in Nebraska.
In its suit, Starbucks asks the court to allow its use of SDN and asks that an injunction be imposed stopping South Dakota Network from threatening additional legal action.
The Associated Press reports that South Dakota Network intends to defend its trademark, with the company’s marketing director Vernon Brown saying that ”our biggest concern … is the potential confusion it causes for customers.”